It’s really October. It’s so hard to believe that we are starting the last quarter of the year 2017. How did this happen? I know we are there because besides the calendar the baseball season is moving into fall ball and then after the World Series, the baseball blues will be in full swing. Already I feel them tugging like a tide going back to sea, pulling a blanket back off the shoreline, exposing the beach.
This week I will be fortunate enough to begin a mentoring period with a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and author of 4 books. The objective is fearless and impactful poetry on my part. It sounds lofty I know, but I believe the right help is on the way.
These times are quite raw. The devastation of hurricanes, people’s lives upended and cast in uncertainty. Last night, a mass shooting in Vegas with at least 58 dead and those injured numbering 515 persons, the largest mass shooting of modern times in our country. The question is sometime asked, “Who needs poetry?” At times like these the answer is a simple, “We do!”
When we don’t have answers to life challenges, both good and bad, sometimes we just need to ask the right questions. Poetry can help us process these things. It may not solve them, but helps us find perspective.
"We are all writing God's Poem." - Anne Sexton
Isn't that what we are doing, Immortalizing some great truth in our poetry? I don't think that Anne Sexton had a monopoly on this. To the extent that any of us can actually discern what God is wanting us to write, I think Sexton may have gotten dangerously close with The Fury off God's Good-bye. She may have come close with several poems.
Sexton wrote often from a great personal depth - she had a courageous way about her when she was unzipping her soul for us all to see. I want to be as daring. Not necessarily with confessional poetry, but in general. I think if we are going to write God's poem(s) I'm pretty certain he/she wants us to go bold. He/She is not going to be happy with some casual writing, I'm sure he/she expects us to reveal a bit of our heart - put ourselves on the line. Otherwise, who will want to read it.
"Every flesh is flawed and poems are flesh." ~ Donald Hall
I think Donald Hall, who I greatly respect, has identified the very human nature of poetry in this statement. We shape word groupings together to establish a creation of language and we hope that it lives up to expectations - both our own and those who read it. But being the imperfect people that we all are, we may write something really well and yet we must know it can be improved.
This falls along the same lines that a poem is never finished, just abandoned. We take the work so far, and maybe we are overthinking it, or tired, or just believe that it is the best that it can be, but we stop. The hope is that when we reach this point, the words will suffice. They will resonate. Knowing fell well that at a future point, we might improve upon this poem.
Sometimes I have written of an evening and put my pen down, or saved a draft to my computer, but in either instance felt very good about what I had just written. A lot of the time, it's not that easy. I can go for days, weeks, seemingly months and not feel especially positive about anything I've written. Still, you press on.
Occasionally, and today is one of those days, where I have to ask myself if I am even on the right track?
What makes one day seem to click? What is it that instills confidence while at other times you question deep down what the hell you ate doing?
I sometimes wonder if there is such a thing as a right track. If I am writing is there a right or wrong track? I'd like to think that all the tracks or all roads lead to success with writing. Not defining success in any way other than fulfillment in the final analysis, that you have achieved something in your writing that leaves you feeling that you just completed a job well done. I'n not going here for publication, or certain sales, or dollars earned as a sign of success. I'm talking about that most basic feeling that what you sit down to do ends up working.
Before any of that other stuff can come (if you even want it to) on the most basic level you have to write to satisfy yourself. That's the track I need to be on. I hope all tracks lead there if we just write long enough.
Michael Allyn Wells - notes & musings